My Heart is Here

Last week, it was time for our annual cupcake decorating day at school.  This is a day when I bring in 5 dozen cupcakes, perfect frosting, and so many sugary decorations that the children either squeal or stop in their tracks when they see the options.  Then the delicate construction process begins.  The next day was our last day of school, and I never know how many will be back in the fall.  So I cherished every moment, and then, wait and see.

Four years volunteering in the same school, watching children grow up and mature right before my eyes, it is unbelievable.  I am so lucky they are a part of my simple adventure in life.

A piece of my heart will always be here, and here, and there, and with each and every one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Yes. Please.

There were quite a few authentic and traditional Chinese dishes we had to try when we went to Xi’an.  We did our very best to eat our way up and through the Muslim Quarter.  Some things, we had to try more than once or twice, just to give it a fair shake.

Rou jia mo is like a Chinese hamburger on a flatbread-type bun.  Every one of the 4 I tried (ha!) was fantastic, and the spicy vegetarian version (cai jia mo) was fantastic too.  Biang biang mian is a carbohydrate dream – wide, thick, long hand-pulled noodles in a sauce of varying spiciness.  Yang rou chuanr is a lamb skewer and at each stall, there are different spices available for you to add your own.  Cumin is a regular favorite.  There were sweet rice cakes, nutty candy, fried little potatoes, noodles, fruits and vegetables, drinks, nuts, breads and so much more.  Enjoy!

Build Yourself an Army

Is it only emperors who can build themselves an army?  My friend, the talented potter / highly educated chemist, can she build herself an army of ceramic cats to protect her from unseen forces?  If I buy enough souvenir Eiffel Towers and display them in organized columns, will they come to life and become my garde militaire?  Seems like reason enough to buy another Eiffel magnet.

Last month, I had the fortune to travel to Xi’an with friends.  It was a whirlwind weekend of seeing and tasting, laughing and thinking, being with people full of love.  It was a weekend of armies, history, emperors, relics, food and a little more food, and plenty of photos.

Xi’an, located in the heart of China in Shaanxi Province, was home to 11 dynasties over a period of 4,000 years.  Nearby is the Banpo site, home to a village in the Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago.  Xi’an was the farthest eastern destination of the Silk Road and the first capital of a unified China more than 2,200 years ago.   Today, it is home to 14km of intact city walls, pagodas, the Terracotta Army, and, in my opinion, one of the best history museums in the world.

In 1974, 3 peasant farmers were digging a well and came upon the tomb-guarding warriors of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.  Little did those farmers know that there were three pits and more than 7,000 life-size soldiers, archers, officers, horses and chariots.  Each one was once colored with pigment and had a weapon, and they all have an individual expression on their face.  Huangdi knew how to build himself an army for his life after death.

The Shaanxi History Museum is an eye-opening experience.  Not only can you see the terracotta soldiers up close, but you can see thousands of relics from the varied history in this province.  On special exhibit while we were there were relics discovered inside two large pots.  Again, a Shaanxi farmer was digging for something and found Tang Dynasty treasures instead.  This museum is amazing and the displays are very well done.

I’m not sure I can choose just a few photos for this blog post.  Keep an eye out for more on the food in Xi’an.  Enjoy.

 

Close your eyes and clone yourself.

Build your heart an army.

To defend your innocence

while you do everything wrong.

Don’t be scared to walk alone.

Don’t be scared to like it.  

Worry, why should I care?

John Mayer – “Age of Worry“.

 

New Outlook

After 4 years in 10D, we have a new view.  The diamond is slightly obstructed now, but look what we get in return.  A different skyline.  The 72 story Maoye building.  The gorgeous Kepu Park.  The tai qi ladies in their blue and red silks making their moves at 6am.  Kites flying in the library field.  At night, we can see the K lit up on the Kempinski Hotel 3km up Qingnian.  And 2km past that, that circle building with cranes sticking out the top.  So despite a new upstairs neighbor who wears high heels at home, and the feline issues with shifts in sunlight, all is well.

Call it a cultural experience.  When a couple gets married in China, it is the husband’s family that is responsible for a place to live, maybe a car, the wedding, etc.  More than a year ago, our landlord’s son got married.  With their baby on the way, the landlord will give our old apartment to his son and daughter in law, and the soon-to-be grandchild.   They were apologetic and appreciated our care of the old place.  They wished us well, and were happy to know we would stay in the neighborhood.  In fact, we now live in the same building as the landlord’s mother.  Maybe she is one of those tai qi ladies?

A new view or a new outlook are sometimes forced upon us.  Sometimes, we have to find a new place to sleep in the sun.  We could look at it as a pain the ass, or we can just accept it, deal with it, do it.  And who knows what we might get in return.

20140515-210748.jpg

20140515-210829.jpg

20140515-210855.jpg

Ten Thousand Elephants

There is a shopping mall in Shenyang called Wan Xiang Cheng.  The wan xiang means 10,000 Elephants … No wonder I like the place.  They are currently displaying gorgeous and decorative little hati.  It is a promotion for all the stores in the mall.  Mont Blanc on an elephant is a beautiful thing.  Big smiles and lots of photos.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trip to Seoul

Earlier in October, we took a fantastic trip to Seoul, Korea.  This is another city, and country, with an amazing past and future.  They have had a turbulent history over the last 600 years or more, and they fight an ongoing war with their northern brothers.  It is an incredibly international city; friendly, clean, hilly and green.  Coffee shops on almost every corner, of few of which we enjoyed.  We learned so much about people who live well, in a developed and advanced nation, all the while living in anger and fear over a border and historical dispute.

We had the enormous fortune to meet and old friend and a new one in Seoul.  Tim worked with Kyu in Lexington SC, and he was there visiting his family.  Kyu and his brother were our knowledgeable guides and translators, and treated us to some fantastic food (and a half dozen Krispy Kreme)!                

Seoul is a great city for foreigners.  It is easy to navigate from the airport and in the city, and they have a great city tour bus with various routes.  We bought a day pass and got off the bus at the sites we wanted to visit, and then hopped back on for the next adventure.  We saw palaces and modern skyscrapers, architecture and green spaces, a military base and a military museum, costumes, colors and Koreans, oh my!  Enjoy the photos.  Also, there are 3 short clips from the palace re-enactments if you’d like to take a look:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQGYiec-_8o  OR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC8qiYpu-6o  OR  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlZGmzZg8EM